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Untitled from the series 'Channel 247' Brooklyn, NY, 2011 © Hye-Ryoung Min

I met the delightful Hye-Ryoung Min at a portfolio review and she got me hooked on the show she'd been covering on Channel 247.

In her teens, Hye-Ryoung couldn't help but think that somebody was watching her all the time. "I had to act as a main actress in some kind of movie which made me feel self-conscious wherever I went. This might be typical of many other teenagers and it might even play a part in how one creates a sense of self. I remember when the movie 'The Truman Show' came out in 1998. It opens with the question: "What if you were watched every moment of your life?" It completely matched my imagination. The movie went on to show how Truman would really feel after he realized the truth of his condition. Which leads me to ask: how different is our behavior when we are conscious of others around us? And what do involuntary actions tell or reveal about us?"

"I had five television sets at home. Three of them were in the living room and two were in the back, one in the bedroom and the other one in the kitchen. By "televisions" I actually mean windows. The three windows in the living room had the most interesting and varied shows and actors, since they give out on the main boulevard with its constant flow of people and situations. But I also enjoyed the daily shows in the backyard featuring a more regular cast of actors and private moments.
 
This kind of programming had a loose schedule and no guarantees that shows would play on time. For the most part, it was all silent film and the story lines were pretty much repetitive. However, I started noticing subtle nuances and differences from day to day. Repetition helped me understand actors' basic characters; nuance and difference offered me clues into their hidden stories." Hye-Ryoung Min, 2012.

View the full screen magazine photo feature.

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Lunchtime, 2001 © Roger Ballen

US-born artist Roger Ballen studied psychology and geology; he talks about peering into the earth, and we see that he also peers into humanity. Living in South Africa since the late 70s Ballen photographed exclusively in the wild until he brought his camera and flash inside in the early 80s, finding motifs in the poor rural communities that he would use in later work. He does not sketch his scenes in advance, knowing that one can't predict too much. People say his work is dark... "The reason most people say these pictures are disturbing is they can't deal with their own repression."

Ballen has a new exhibition at the Manchester Art Gallery in England 'Shadow Land: Photographs by Roger Ballen 1983-2011' opening March 30th, and another at Marta Herford, Germany, opening April 22nd, 2012.

View the aCurator full screen photography feature

Ballen has known the band members of Die Antwoord for several years and in a befitting collaboration they recently produced this music video for 'I Fink U Freeky.'

 


Order your copy of 'Photographs Not Taken', a collection of short essays by photographers including Ballen's story 'The Cat Catcher.'

Also, "The Roger Ballen Foundation is dedicated to the advancement of education of photography in South Africa. RBF creates and supports programmes of the highest quality to further the understanding and appreciation of the medium. Working with artists from around the world, our program enables students and general audiences to engage with notable contemporary photographic art that would otherwise not be seen in South Africa."

Quotes from hypnotic video and audio interviews with Lens Culture. Further reading: recent article on Time's Lightbox.

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"American Girl In Italy" 1951 © Ruth Orkin

As a member of the American Photography Archives Group, in my role representing the Estate of Yousuf Karsh, I sit among some truly great archivists, including relatives of Ernst Haas, Phillipe Halsman, Inge Morath, Gordon Parks and many more. The founder of this group is the inimitable Mary Engel, daughter of photographers Ruth Orkin and Morris Engel, who also works hard representing her parents' archives.

Daughter of a silent film actress, Ruth Orkin had an early interest in film movies and was the first messenger girl at MGM Studios! "Orkin wanted to become a cinematographer; however, women were not allowed to join the union. It was not until the 1950′s when she and her husband Morris Engel made their first independent feature film "Little Fugitive." Truffaut credited the film with helping to start the French New Wave."

In Mary's words: "My mother, Ruth Orkin, had many loves. Photography and travel were two of them. When she was 17, my mother took a cross-country trip by herself, bicycling and hitchhiking from her home in Los Angeles to New York, snapping pictures along the way. She later moved to New York, where this spirit of adventure continued. She photographed Tanglewood's summer music festivals, honed her craft in nightclubs, joined the Photo League, and with her first published story in Look magazine, became "a full-fledged photojournalist." In 1951, Life sent her on assignment to Israel. From there she went to Italy, and it was in Florence that she met Jinx Allen (now known as Ninalee Craig), a painter and fellow American.

The two were talking about their shared experiences traveling alone as young single women, when my mother had an idea. "Come on," she said, "lets go out and shoot pictures of what it's really like." In the morning, while the Italian women were inside preparing lunch, Jinx gawked at statues, asked Military officials for directions, fumbled with lire and flirted in cafes while my mother photographed her. They had a lot of fun, as the photograph, "Staring at the Statue", demonstrates. My mother's best known image, "American Girl in Italy" was also created as part of this series."

aCurator is pleased to publish some of the rest of this photo shoot.

View the full screen magazine photo feature.

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Alfredo Gutierrez makes portraits of homeless Americans who come to Tijuana because life on the street is cheaper here than in neighboring California. © Stefan Falke

Whilst working on his project on the Moko Jumbies of Trinidad, Stefan Falke met a costume designer from Mexico who introduced him to one of Mexico's foremost artists, Marta Palau, and Stefan's idea for a project photographing artists along the US-Mexican border began to develop.

"With my long-term project 'La Frontera' I want to examine the cultural and humanitarian activities on both sides of a border that keeps the United States and Mexico apart with a wall of steel already 600 miles long. The turf wars of drug cartels, arms trafficking and rampant kidnappings have turned cities like Tijuana and Juarez into some of the most dangerous places on earth. Despite the violence many artists, photographers, architects, poets, humanitarians, teachers, live and work in the shadow of the wall on both sides, and have a positive influence on this region; they are the focus of this project. Over time I plan to cover the entire length from the Atlantic to the Pacific." Stefan Falke

Stefan's first show of this work opens March 9th, 2012 at La Casa Del Tunel Art Center,
Colonia Federal, Tijuana BC, México. The Center is built over an old tunnel running under the border.

View the full screen magazine photo feature.

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© Stefan Falke

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March For Jobs, Peace & Freedom. Washington D.C., August 1983 © Margaret McCarthy

Portfolio reviews are earnest affairs, I've heard them called "stuffy," so it's notable when one finishes one's 10 minutes of speed dating with tears of laughter rolling down one's cheeks which is how it was when I met Margaret McCarthy for the first time and she showed me 'Late Night Animals' - yes, photographs of animals that featured as guests on various late night talk shows. Margaret went on to have a show of the series in New York.
 
However, it seems as good a time as any for some photographs of protests. As an aside, I hit the streets for my first protest at age 14 under Margaret Thatcher - Meryl Streep won best actress in the Oscars last night for portraying her in a film I wouldn't see even if you promised to keep me in milk for the rest of my life.
 
So, my alternative title for this story is 'Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.'

"The 1980's and 1990's are often portrayed as decades of greed and apathy when social activism vanished. In fact, those times spawned vigorous and committed opposition to a rapidly escalating nuclear arms race and U.S. activities in Central America. A military draft threatened to unfairly target black and inner city youth. Frustration over the treatment of women and same sex couples reached a slow boil as the AIDS crisis hit and abortion rights were continually attacked. We realized the environment was in trouble. A sea change occurred then: the awareness of how all these issues were connected. The cost of war could no longer be separated from issues of racism and poverty; the status of women reflected our relationship to the earth. March events then tended to be multi-issued, asking people to rally around a united consciousness; they cut across lines of race, sex, gender preference, economic status and age.

Color slide film, with its saturated hues, captured the visual richness and drama of these events, as well as the humor and irreverence of their participants. These events were truly 'living theatre' with a message - protest as a creative act. It was important to me to witness and document this pageant of American history not often discussed or acknowledged. Occupy Wall Street was preceded by large-scale demonstrations in opposition to the Iraq War; those were historically connected to the activism of the 1980's and 90's. The anti-war movement of the '60's eventually evolved into a peace movement, which birthed a consciousness of how all the important issues we face are related.

Today a new generation of young activists infuses fresh energy into the peace and social justice movements. I continue to document this multi-cultural, multi-generational activism, hoping to capture its wit, vision, its creative spirit and its fresh sense of urgency.

So what's really changed? (Other than my using digital cameras now?) Look at the jubilant faces of the newly married same sex couples in front of city hall. Look at the in-your-face signs of the young women marching to protect not just abortion rights now, but birth control. Look at the signs from Zuccottti Park; the human mic asks: What is our highest and best future?" - Margaret McCarthy, February, 2012

Continuing her work photographing protests, Margaret hit the streets for 'The Line' march today. "5,000 citizens formed a 3 mile line on Broadway, from the Bull at Bowling Green to Union Square and held up pink slips from 8:14 am to 8:28 a.m. today on Super Tuesday, March 6, 2012. It was a protest to represent 14 million Unemployed Americans & demand action from congress & corporations."


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Wave Trails, Black Sand, Iceland, 2002 © Bill Schwab

Bill Schwab and I first crossed paths many years ago when he joined my agency for syndication. I recall some photos of Dee Dee Ramone. The wonderful world of social media brought our paths together again recently and I learned about the other Bill Schwab, who, with a Kodak Brownie and a home darkroom kit received as a gift from his father, taught himself to process film and contact print at age twelve: a widely exhibited and collected fine art photographer, wet plate practitioner and teacher, and producer of stunning landscapes. Bill has made several trips to Iceland and takes workshops out there (one of which 'Iceland: The South Coast' is later this year); his work also often centers around his home base of the Detroit area.

Bill's book 'Gathering Calm' is available in its second edition, and his next book, featuring his work from Belle Isle, Detroit, will be released this year.

View the full screen magazine photo feature.

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Dee Dee Ramone, Detroit, 1991 © Bill Schwab

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© Les Stone

Les Stone, working on a documentary on coal mining in McDowell County, West Virginia, has found his story morphing into a broader look at health care.

"McDowell County is one of the poorest and most remote counties in the United States. In fact Welch, the county seat, had at one time the highest concentration of millionaires in the United States. Thousands of immigrants came from all over the world to work in the coalfields. Now, Welch is scarcely a shadow of its former self. Still, today more coal is taken out of this area than at any time in its history, however, mechanization and non-union mining left the county destitute. In addition, many of the coal companies have treated the people there with disdain and have taken advantage of the miners and their families. .

Black lung, heart disease, diabetes and drug abuse just a few of the problems that have come with poverty in McDowell County. Black lung disease is on the rise among all the miners after several years of decline. Many of the formerly rich towns in the area are now little more than ghost towns and still the only jobs that pay more than minimum wage are the most dangerous jobs in the world - coal mining. Very few people here have health care insurance or access to medical clinics.

In the context of the national economy where many of us are currently suffering, this project is a reminder that some of our fellow countrymen have had it much worse for a long time and they should not be forgotten. In fact, they need to be celebrated as heroes. They are the reason the lights are still on in our homes. However that is not to celebrate coal - we need to find alternatives and quickly - but as in all decisions involving policy, you cannot forget that people's lives are deeply affected." - Les Stone.

Many thanks to Les for the text.

Read an interview with Les, "How A Photojournalist Used To Work," on Stella Kramer's blog.

View the full screen magazine feature.

Karsh_Giacometti_Alberto_02.jpg"Within every man and woman a secret is hidden, and as a photographer it is my task to reveal it if I can. The revelation, if it comes at all, will come in a small fraction of a second with an unconscious gesture, a gleam of the eye, a brief lifting of the mask that all humans wear to conceal their innermost selves from the world. In that fleeting interval of opportunity the photographer must act or lose his prize."

Yousuf Karsh made more than 15,000 sittings across six decades. This feature is but a small selection of the artists he photographed.

There is lots of information and images on the official Karsh website, it's great value so I recommend a long visit.


View the full screen magazine photo feature.

Alberto Giacometti, 1965 © Yousuf Karsh

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Maloyn Chatelin © Denis Darzacq

In other series Denis Darzacq uses dancers and athletes to capture able bodies in suspension, in urban settings. In 'Act,' 2008-2011, he photographed people with physical limitations, from a variety of backgrounds, careers and locations from the south of France to the north of England and the States; the goal was for each to express their individuality through a collaborative effort with the photographer. Denis worked with institutions, dance and sports groups to find eager participants. "Everyone, from the moment he decided to play the game, took an active part in the image by choosing gestures, attitudes, clothing, a place."

This body of work was brought to my attention by friend and colleague Jerry Fielder who enjoyed Denis' exhibition in Paris at Galerie VU last November. Denis has won a World Press Photo Award, and been exhibited and collected by multiple institutions, and is a member of Agence VU. Visit Denis' website for more, in particular check out Hyper, and La Chute.

View the full screen magazine photo feature.

Thanks to Denis for providing his interview with Virginie Chardin.

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© Michel Leroy

Here is another great photographer I met at a portfolio review.* Michel Leroy's gritty portraits of Rally Bikers depict a microcosm of the biking world at large.

"Attending motorcycle rallies throughout the American West allows me to create portraits of riders ranging from 7-year-old kids on 90cc hill climbers, to middle age firemen on 1200cc road bikes, to sunburnt grandparents on 1800cc luxury touring marvels. The patches, leather and tattoos are trappings of a lifestyle that riders have chosen as a release from the everyday obligations of a 9 to 5 weekday existence."

View the full screen magazine photo feature.

I really appreciate photographers such as Michel who take time out of their already-burdensome digital imaging processes to write and maintain a fun and interesting blog.

*NYC Fotoworks

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